Submerged (2005) (part 4 of 6)

Cut to the dam at night. Hilan, the guy formerly known as Captain Longhair, enters the mad scientist lab and begins yelling at Lehder about Cody’s team. Meanwhile, Plowden, now fully brainwashed, stands there showing as much emotion as… well, as a typical Steven Seagal performance, actually. As Hilan talks, Lehder smashes Plowden in the face with his cane and gives us this non sequiter:

Lehder: Product testing: the only gratification a scientist ever receives. [Translation: The whole brainwashing thing turned out not to be a chick magnet. I haven’t gotten laid since the Reagan administration.]

Suddenly, Fletcher enters and shoots up the place, and Hilan is killed. Well, that was abrupt. Fletcher and Plowden and Lehder all exit, leaving behind Colonel Sharpe and the rest of the brainwashed soldiers. Apparently, the idea is to let Cody’s team rescue them, then activate their latent assassin tendencies later, using them as a Trojan horse of sorts.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Take that you lousy alien—What, wrong movie? Dammit!”

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Meanwhile, Cody and his team infiltrate a nearby submarine pen and take over a sub. This is depicted mostly through shots of Cody and Henry watching the rest of the team do all the work. (And from the looks of things, both actors were shot separately.) Basically, the team infiltrates the dam, and rest assured that we get to see every single second of it. And I’m sure somewhere out there is at least one person who enjoys seeing passages from Tom Clancy novels played out in real time. One sad, lonely, terribly dull person.

For several minutes, all we see are random extras being silently killed. Finally, Henry takes out the guards on the sub at long range. He uses some sort of silenced gun that causes a guard to silently catch fire [!]. He notes that “The heat from the fire sears their throats closed. They can’t even scream.” Why, thank you for that little tidbit, my vaguely psychotic cousin from across the pond. Next on Henry the British Soldier’s Living, Henry will show you how to keep your floors from getting ruined when you cut a man’s throat, simply by laying out some lovely throw rugs beforehand! And… this is a good thing.

This would be a pretty useful weapon to have for stealthy missions, one would think. Except, after the guy catches fire, he noisily splashes into the water. Henry apologizes for the splash, even though he should be apologizing for a lack of talent. But hey, look who he’s acting against.

Caption contributed by Ed

Ah, what a hothead. (Sorry, this film is so bad it deserves that pun.)

There’s some banter that reveals Cody’s nickname for Henry is “Alligator” (I think we actually do get Seagal’s real voice here, but don’t quote me on that). Meanwhile, the team continues to converge on the dam. Finally, Cody, Dr. J and the rest of the gang all enter the lab. They find the hostage soldiers in cages, looking stoned out of their minds (much like the screenwriters, I assume). During this, there’s a hilariously awful line from Cody as he channels Ice-T’s spirit once again.

Cody: There’s some sick shit up in here, Alligator!

Meanwhile, the rest of the team rigs the dam with explosives, but soon they’re ambushed by Hilan’s men. I guess these guys don’t mind too much that their leader’s dead. Cody tells Henry to get the hostages to the sub, yelling, “You got ten minutes to get your white ass outta here! You hear me?” Um, alright. I think I’ll just let the stupidity of that line speak for itself.

Back at the ambush, we get our first large scale action sequence. Well, large scale for a crappy DTV film shot in Eastern Europe, anyway. The bad guys consist of one tank and a buttload of soldiers, and Seagal fires his shotgun like it’s a machine gun (I’d point out all the weapon idiocies in this film, but then we’d be here all year). Meanwhile, the entire team just stands in one place, out in the open, firing at the bad guys. Always a good battle strategy. It’s right up there with standing unarmed in front of a tank and shouting, “Come on through!”

Caption contributed by Ed

Vinnie Jones is Forrest Gump in Gump 2: Dangerous Is As Dangerous Does.

Caption contributed by Ed

Taking cover is for sissies!

Cody takes out the tank with a grenade, while back in the lab, Dr. J finds a disc on Hilan’s body. She rejoins the team, and they all very casually board the submarine to escape. The dam goes up in a really bad CGI explosion. Seriously, I could have done a better job with construction paper and some firecrackers.

The sub descends, meaning that it only took thirty-five minutes out of a movie called Submerged for us to finally reach a “submerged” state. Don’t get too comfy, though. The sub sequence only lasts eighteen minutes. But on the other hand, it feels like an hour, because like the rest of the film, nothing happens.

Caption contributed by Ed

Underwater photography shot in some Romanian guy’s bathtub.

The rescued soldiers are taken to the infirmary, where Doc works on one of them. During this, Damita suddenly starts threatening Dr. J, so Cody has Henry confiscate everybody’s weapons. As in, his own team’s weapons. Sounds like a good plan.

Dr. J takes Cody aside for a private talk. She gives him the disc, along with a vague speech about being careful. After this, there’s yet another transition that plays like a visual representation of schizophrenia, which brings us to a truly odd scene between Damita and Dr. J. They have a very dull fight which leads to… well, nothing, actually.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Get Sports Center to improve their WNBA coverage, or I’ll cut your head off!”

Back on the Clinton, the sub is spotted on radar. And then we cut back to the sub so quickly it’s a wonder the audience didn’t get whiplash. (Wait, who am I kidding? This film had no audience.) This is followed by a montage of the team doing absolutely nothing, allegedly to build suspense, but more likely just to kill time. Dr. J and Cody talk in the galley, and in one of the dumbest, most confusing bits of the film, we learn that Cody apparently thought they were rescuing terrorists.

Yep, our hero thinks that the first strike team they rescued are terrorists. Which would at least explain the odd way Henry has been knocking them around, but still, why would the movie want us to believe our hero is that dumb? Dr. J goes on to explain all the stuff about brainwashing that we already know, and apparently, this is the first time she’s mentioning any of it to Cody. It seems this information was classified as “need to know”. Wow, that’s really dumb, even for a movie featuring Steven Seagal. (Who, I remind you, once ended an action movie with a ten minute diatribe against oil cartels destroying plankton.)

This conversation is intercut with the brainwashed soldiers coming to life and taking over the ship, sort of, and killing Doc in the process. It looks like their big plan is to sink the sub. This leads me to the conclusion that brainwashing not only puts you under the control of the bad guys, but also robs you of about a hundred IQ points. From here, a sub-Die Hard (no pun intended) routine ensues, as the brainwashed soldiers sabotage the sub.

Caption contributed by Ed

Miniature ships designed by Mattell.

Henry fights two guys in a random, darkly lit room. Meanwhile, Dr. J and Cody have fights of their own, in the boiler room and galley, respectively. Dr. J’s fight is rather dull, though she does make a more credible action hero than Seagal.

And then there’s Cody’s fight with Colonel Sharpe. (Remember him? Colonel Dead Meat? It’s alright if you don’t. I barely remember him myself.) Their fight amounts to little more than a rehash of better fights in better Seagal films. Only, slower and duller, without anything resembling martial arts. To top it all off, the fight starts with Seagal sitting down. Not exactly a heart-stopping way to start off a fight scene, is all I’m saying.

Caption contributed by Ed

“You brought the dinner late, so no tip for you, pal!”

Ultimately, their fight is just one or two punches and a few tosses. Seagal throws Sharpe into the galley, then swears like a Tourette’s patient for no reason. What aikido move is that, I wonder? Is it a setup move, or just a defensive maneuver?

I’d love to say the fight is quick because Seagal moves fast, but the editing is so frenetic, he could be moving like a snail on valium for all we know. In fact, I think he is moving like a snail on valium. The end of the fight is particularly baffling; it ends with Sharpe getting a knife to the back of the neck. Which is fine, except Dr. J’s fight also ends this way, and bits of both scenes are cut together to form one moment. It’s official: the editor of this film was either high on crack, or he is Satan. If it’s option B, that would explain how this movie got made in the first place. Of course, you’d think the Dark One would have a little more pull, and be able to get his movie shown in actual theaters.

Eventually, Cody’s team is caught and brought to the bridge. The filmmakers shoot any attempts at suspense in the foot here, since the only two guys in the strike team who actually got names are either somewhere else (Plowden) or dead (Sharpe). So the threats they make here come off as especially unconvincing, since we have no idea who any of these people are.

The team is ordered to submerge. Now, hang on a sec. Weren’t they already submerged to begin with? Is this a different connotation of “submerged” that we’re dealing with? Maybe they need to un-submerge and then submerge again in order to submerge more thoroughly than before. Or maybe they need to merge one submerge with another submerge in order to submerge farther… Oh, no. I’ve gone cross-eyed! Well, I’ve been wanting to smash myself in the face with a shovel since the movie started. At least now I have an excuse.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Submerged (2005)

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